Science Scope

A genetic test for dieters

Posting in Finance

A $149 genetic test can help people pick between a low-carb and low-fat diet.

Maybe the hit TV show, The Biggest Loser, should add a genetic component to help contestants lose weight.

Interleukin Genetics might have a simple answer to the low-carb versus low-fat dilemma. The company's DNA test checks your saliva for genes that influence fat and carbohydrate metabolism. While there are hundreds of genes linked to obesity, the Interleukin Genetics tests for 3 genes: fatty acid binding protein 2, peroxisome proliferators activated receptor gamma, and beta 2 adrenergic receptor.

Working with Interleukin Genetics, Standford University professors conducted a study involving 138 overweight women. The women with genes for a low-carb diet lost more weight than women without those genes. Two and a half times more weight, in fact. And the women who had a genetic predisposition to the low-fat diet, also lost more weight than those without it.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

"Knowing your genotype for low carb or low fat diets could help you increase your weight-loss success," said Christopher Gardner, an associate professor of medicine at Stanford and senior author of the study.

Of course, more studies need to be done to determine if the test is actually useful. Also, the scientists will have to study men and ethnic groups, as WSJ's Ron Winslow points out.

Regardless of your genes, both the low-fat and low-carb diets are good for your heart. However, if you're looking to maintain weight loss long term, scientists say a low-fat diet is best.

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Boonsri Dickinson

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Boonsri Dickinson is a freelance journalist based in San Francisco. She has written for Discover, The Huffington Post, Forbes, Nature Biotech, Technewsdaily.com, Techstartups.com and AOL. She's currently a reporter for Business Insider. She holds degrees from the University of Florida and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure